There are big concerts, a Broadway musical and a national gospel treasure to get you out of the house in 2023.
Here are 10 cultural happenings to surprise and delight you in the first quarter of the new year.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
That working-class hero Bruce Springsteen outraged some followers last summer when tickets went on sale for his 2023 shows and “dynamic” ticket pricing quickly pushed costs up to $4,000 and more.
Springsteen advised ticket buyers that they would get their money’s worth and his manager issued a statement pointing out that most of the tickets sold were in the $200 range. Ticketmaster later released figures showing that only 1.3% of the tickets were above $1,000.
That failed to simmer down the fans. Variety magazine wrote: “Substantial pockets of the Springsteen fan base are still experiencing confusion, at best, and rage, at worst, about the unexpectedly skyrocketing costs of some of his tickets on this tour.”
Be that as it may, Springsteen, 73, has no shortage of ticket buyers, though tickets still remain for the State Farm show.
What tunes will he play? In November he released an album of soul covers, “Only the Strong Survive,” a “pandemic project” with Springsteen handling just vocals and his producer Ron Aniello playing all the instruments.
Some of those R&B classics might make it into his Atlanta set, but odds are that he will focus on his non-solo material since he’s performing with the E Street Band for the first time in six years.
Springsteen might not be the Jersey Joe Six Pack character that he has created in song — after all, he has his own Broadway show — but high ticket prices don’t make him a turncoat. As Ron Lieber, the Your Money columnist for the New York Times, wrote when reporting on the ticket imbroglio, “I can say this with exactly zero objectivity and even less scientific precision: His tickets are worth many, many hundreds of dollars.”
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3. Prices are variable. State Farm Arena, 1 State Farm Drive, Atlanta. statefarmarena.com
Credit: Gilles Toucas
Credit: Gilles Toucas
As a performer, historian, writer, archivist and television personality, Michael Feinstein has had a ringside seat at the pageant that is the American songbook.
At age 20 he moved to Los Angeles from his hometown Columbus, Ohio, performed in piano bars and found his way to Ira Gershwin’s house through a friendship with the widow of Oscar Levant.
Feinstein worked for Gershwin for six years, first cataloguing Gershwin’s enormous collection of recordings, many of them rare samples of radio air checks, and then serving as the eyes and ears on the world for the aging, homebound lyricist.
In his show, part of the Neranenah festival, he will be performing gems from the Jewish American songbook. He will also combine music with personal stories of the Gershwins, along with tales of Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and other Jewish songwriters who have left a lasting mark on American popular music.
In the introduction to his memoir “The Gershwins and Me,” Feinstein writes, “Through the years I have been blessed to meet and know many of the personalities involved with this music, and I have always tried to remember and hold on to what I have learned from them.”
Michael Feinstein. 8 p.m. Feb. 5. $44-$74. Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. cityspringstheatre.com
Credit: Photo by ©Paul Kolnik
Credit: Photo by ©Paul Kolnik
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has performed in 71 countries on six continents, celebrating the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition.
The company is well known to Atlanta audiences through yearly performances here and collaborations with civic organizations including the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Artistic director Robert Battle has called Atlanta the company’s second home.
A five-year program called Destination Dance AILEY Atlanta, which ended in 2022, kept that connection vital and “served as a central meeting point for the city’s dance audiences, artists, teachers and students,” according to the Ailey website.
Performances will include Ailey’s well-known work, “Revelations,” which debuted in 1960. In 2014, Battle accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom on behalf of Ailey, who died in 1989.
For those who want to get in the mood for the performance, the documentary “Ailey” is currently streaming on Hulu.
Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. Feb. 16-19. $29 and up. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. Atlanta. foxtheatre.org
Mozart’s tale of a libertine’s downfall is translated to a world of gangsters and molls in this production of “Don Giovanni” by the Atlanta Opera. Expect a film noir world, with flawed heroes and dark shadows.
The opera’s general and artistic director Tomer Zvulun calls “Don Giovanni” the most enigmatic and profound opera that Mozart ever wrote.
This production will be led by Jan Latham-Koenig, the upcoming music director of Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires.
Bass-baritone Brandon Cedel will sing the role of Don Giovanni, making his debut with the Atlanta Opera. Soprano Mané Galoyan, a member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, sings the role of Donna Anna, and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano will perform the jilted Donna Elvira.
“Don Giovanni.” Jan. 21-29. $48 and up. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. atlantaopera.org
B-52s with KC and the Sunshine Band
Last year the beloved Athens band, the B-52s, announced a farewell show of sorts. They did not plan to quit performing, but they were tired of touring.
The announcement implied a trio of fall appearances at the Fox Theatre might be their last visit to Atlanta for a while, if not forever.
Then sickness intervened. (The band didn’t say who got sick.) Their Atlanta shows were postponed until Jan. 6-8. To complete the long goodbye, the self-described “tacky little dance band from Athens” will perform for three nights in January.
The B-52s. 7:30 p.m. Jan 6-8. $49.50-$249.50. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St., Atlanta. foxtheatre.org
Credit: Charles Erickson
Credit: Charles Erickson
The winner of eight Tony Awards, this tale from Greek mythology is described as a “hell-raising journey, to the underworld and back again.”
Presented by Broadway in Atlanta, “Hadestown” takes liberties with the legends we already know, intertwining the two love stories between Orpheus and Eurydice and Hades and Persephone.
The show began life 12 years ago as an album of songs by singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell, then became a theatrical production with the help of director Rachel Chavkin. It went on to rule the Tonys in 2019 and also won the 2020 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.
“Hadestown.” Jan. 10-15. $36-$169. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St., Atlanta. foxtheatre.org
Joseph Stella at the High
Born in Italy in 1877, Joseph Stella came to New York City in 1896 first to study medicine, then art. He became known for his intricate geometrical paintings of the industrial side of the city, particularly the Brooklyn bridge, which made his name synonymous with the futurist movement.
By 1920 Stella had turned away from factories and smoke to the natural world of plants and birds for his subject matter. “These works hark back to the joy he felt in the light and open spaces of his native Italian countryside,” according to a description by the High Museum, where the new exhibit, “Visionary Nature,” shows the surprising links between Stella’s hyper-active paintings of urban life and his later reflections on the natural world.
“Much of his emotional and spiritual life centered on his relationship with nature, and the exhibition offers the unique opportunity to revisit Stella through this lens,” said Stephanie Heydt, the High’s curator of American art and lead exhibition curator, in a statement.
Joseph Stella: Visionary Nature.” Feb. 24-May 21. $16.50. High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. high.org
Credit: Dragan Perkovski
Credit: Dragan Perkovski
Martha Graham Dance Company
Dancer and choreographer Martha Graham’s technique reshaped modern dance and transformed it into a quintessentially American art form.
She founded the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance in 1926, and during a long career she created 181 dance compositions, collaborating with designers, photographers, sculptors and composers such as Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti.
After her death in 1991, a dispute over the ownership of that choreography led to questions whether her dance company could continue performing her work. A lawsuit in 2002 resolved that dispute in the dance company’s favor.
The company, under the artistic direction of Janet Eilber, now focuses on reviving Graham’s work, as well as commissioning new pieces. The company performs at the Rialto Center for the Arts in February.
Martha Graham Dance Company. 3 p.m. Feb. 5. $39.10-$81. Rialto Center for the Arts, 80 Forsyth St. NW, Atlanta. rialto.gsu.edu
“The Hot Wing King”
Written and directed by Katori Hall and winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for drama, “The Hot Wing King” is making its regional debut at the Alliance and is directed for the first time by the writer.
The action revolves around middle-aged Cordell’s ambitions to win a cooking contest. His crew of helpers, including boyfriend Dwayne, work feverishly through the night, preparing spices, cutting up chickens and slinging comments back and forth.
Hall’s list of credentials runs long. She is the showrunner and executive producer of the streaming drama “P-Valley.” For Broadway she recently wrote and produced “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.” And her play “The Mountaintop” re-imagines the last night of Martin Luther King Jr.; it premiered in London in 2009, then opened on Broadway in 2011 starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.
“The Hot Wing King.” Feb. 10-March 5. $25-$78. Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. Atlanta. alliancetheatre.org
A New Yorker profile last summer pointed out that Mavis Staples has been singing gospel music longer than Elizabeth II wore the crown.
When Staples graduated from high school in 1957, she went on the road with her siblings and, under the leadership of their father, Pops Staples, the Staple Singers became a gospel sensation.
In 1972 the Staple Singers released “I’ll Take You There,” which rose to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, expanded their following outside the church and introduced Mavis Staples’ smoky voice to the world.
Staples is a triple crossover artist: She has been chosen for the rock, blues and gospel halls of fame. She performed at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration and in Barack Obama’s White House.
At 83, she shows no signs of slowing down. Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, who is among her many collaborators, told the New Yorker, “I hope I have that energy when I’m her age, but the truth is I don’t even have it now.”
Mavis Staples. 8 p.m. Feb. 11. $50.15-$120. Rialto Center for the Arts, 80 Forsyth St. NW, Atlanta. rialto.gsu.edu
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